104-year-old building conserved to protect Singapore’s built heritage

The parochial house of St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) was officially gazetted on June 30.The parochial house of St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) was officially gazetted on June 30.

The parochial house of St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) was gazetted as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) efforts to protect Singapore’s built heritage.

The announcement was officially made at the church on June 30.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong was the guest-of-honour at the event.

In his address, he highlighted the significance of the 104-year-old building.

“It has survived World War II and three generations” and is “a testament to the multi-ethnic roots and the open, inclusive nature of Singapore,” he said.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong having a closer look at relics of the 12 Apostles located in the parochial house. Photo: VITA IMAGESMinister for National Development Lawrence Wong having a closer look at relics of the 12 Apostles located in the parochial house. Photo: VITA IMAGESThe three-storey building was the “former headquarters of the Portuguese Mission in Singapore and formed a critical part of the story of the Eurasian community,” Mr Wong added.

Fr Alex Chua, rector of St Joseph’s Church, said that “it is an honour for the Church to have its parochial house recognised and conserved for its architectural, historical and social heritage.

“We hope that this gazette will help reinforce the sense of heritage for future generations of Singapore Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

Other segments during the event included the unveiling of a storyboard that chronicles the history and significance of the parochial house and the launch of a new book by Prof James Newton Boss, chairman of the parish pastoral council.

Titled Journey of 190 Years, the book looks at the history of the Eurasian Catholic community in Singapore.

After the event, Mr Wong was invited for a tour of the parochial house.

Some of the rooms he visited were the room where old baptism and death records are stored, the chapel of the former Bishop of Macau which houses bone fragment relics of the 12 Apostles, as well as his personal room.

History of the parochial house

Built in 1912, the parochial house of St Joseph’s Church (Victoria St) served as the headquarters of the Portuguese Mission in Singapore until 1981. It was also the residence of the Bishop of Macau until 1999 when the Portuguese Mission ceased its presence in Singapore.

The building is a prime showcase of Portuguese Baroque style, with distinctive features such as its pointed Gothic arches at the facade, and pinnacles decorated with crockets adorning the roof.

The main church building of St Joseph’s Church, also completed in 1912, was gazetted a national monument in 2005.


By Jared Ng
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